I’m here to talk (briefly! I promise!) about a pet peeve of mine.
Sometimes, I read romance novels, and the protagonists do a lot of smirking. Like, a lot. And I have to wonder: am I missing something? Is there such a thing as a sexy smirk?
Smut Readers! Help me out here:
When our Romantic Hero **smirks** at the heroine all the time, I have this visceral reaction. The first time it happens, I roll my eyes. The second time it happens, I highlight it. The third time it happens, I clench my teeth a little bit. Until every time the word “smirk” appears on the page, I am annotating my book in all caps while grinding my teeth: THIS IS NOT SEXY.
Because I know what words mean, and how to use a dictionary, I decided that I should investigate this a bit. Merriam Webster defines “to smirk” as “to smile in a smug or condescending way.” The very first example they give is from Harry Potter – and guess who’s smirking.** (Hint: it’s not Hermione Granger, who is definitely too cool for Ron and Harry, but I digress.)
Smugness is not sexy. Condescension is not sexy. Both imply a feeling of superiority in the smirker towards the smirkee. What is the appeal of a romantic pairing where one party clearly feels superior to the other?
I’m not talking about alpha-holes. These guys aren’t alpha-holes. Alpha-holes might be smug and condescending, but they are too above it all to smirk. Smirking is what small-minded, irritating people do. And small-minded, irritating heroes are the very worst heroes of all.
*If you chose this answer, please explain it to me in the comments!
**Malfoy. It’s Malfoy.